Facts on Fire www.usfa.fema.gov
Fire in the United States
The U.S. has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world.
About 5,000 people die every year in this country as the result of fire, and another 25,500 are injured.
About 100 firefighters are killed annually in duty-related incidents.
Each year, fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined.
Fire is the third leading cause of accidental death in the home; at least 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences.
More than 2 million fires are reported each year. Many others go unreported, causing additional injuries and property loss.
Direct property loss due to fires is estimated at $9.4 billion annually.
Causes of Fires and Fire Deaths
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. It is also the leading cause of fire injuries. Cooking fires often result from unattended cooking and human error, rather than mechanical failure of stoves or ovens.
Careless smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths. Smoke detectors and smolder-resistant bedding and upholstered furniture are significant fire deterrents.
Heating is the second leading cause of residential fires and ties with arson as the second leading cause of fire deaths. However, heating fires are a larger problem in single family homes than in apartments. Unlike apartments, the heating systems in single family homes are often not professionally maintained.
Arson is the third leading cause of residential fires and a leading cause of residential fire deaths. In commercial properties, arson is the major cause of deaths, injuries, and dollar loss.
What Saves Lives
A working smoke alarm dramatically increases a person’s chance of surviving a fire.
Approximately 90 percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm. However, these alarms are not always properly maintained and as a result might not work in an emergency. There has been a disturbing increase over the last ten years in the number of fires that occur in homes with non-functioning alarms.
It is estimated that over 40 percent of residential fires and three-fifths of residential fatalities occur in homes with no smoke alarms.
Residential sprinklers have become more cost effective for homes. Currently, few homes are protected by them.
Senior citizens and children under the age of five have the greatest risk of fire death.
The fire death risk among seniors is more than double the average population.
The fire death risk for children under age five is nearly double the risk of the average population.
Children under the age of ten accounted for an estimated 20 percent of all fire deaths in 1995.
Over 30 percent of the fires that kill young children are started by children playing with fire.
Men die or are injured in fires twice as often as women.
This is Fire: A Factsheet on the Nature of Fire www.usfa.fema.gov
Every day Americans experience the horror of fire. But most people don't understand fire. Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare ourselves and our families. Each year more than 5,000 Americans die and more than 25,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA), a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), believes that fire deaths can be reduced by teaching people the basic facts about fire. Below are some simple facts that explain the particular characteristics of fire.
Fire is FAST!
In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house. In minutes, a house can be engulfed in flames. Most fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.
Fire is HOT!
A fire's heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.
Fire is DARK!
Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years.
Fire is DEADLY!
Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.
Fire Safety Tips
In the event of a fire, remember time is the biggest enemy and every second counts!
Escape first, then call for help. Develop a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room. Practice feeling your way out with your eyes closed. Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason; it may cost you your life.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.
There is little time!
Heat is more threatening than flames.
Fire isn't bright, it's pitch black.
Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do.
At least 80 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences.
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